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Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Women

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Are you feeling down and lacking enjoyment in life? 

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 5 women will experience depression in their lifetime. Though it might not seem serious at first, if left untreated, depression can seriously disrupt your mental and physical health.

In this guide, we are going to shed light on the signs of depression in women so you can determine if you or a loved one should seek help.

What is Depression?

Depression is a serious medical illness that affects how you feel, think, and act. Everyone feels sad from time to time, but depression feels more intense than momentary sadness or a rough patch. Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness that doesn’t go away and can impact your daily activities and quality of life. 

If you are feeling constantly sad, have low energy, and don’t get enjoyment out of things that once brought you joy, then you could be suffering from depression. If left untreated, it can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems that can seriously derail your life. 

If you think you are suffering from depression, it’s important to get the help you need and speak to a healthcare provider about it.

Women and Depression

Both men and women can suffer from depression, but it is more common for women to get diagnosed with depression due to a variety of factors. Biological, hormonal, and societal factors can all play a part in a woman getting diagnosed with depression. 

Women experience hormonal changes throughout their lives. Menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause can cause a change in your hormones, which can trigger mood swings or depressive episodes. Women also experience depression symptoms like pronounced feelings of guilt, sleep issues, and weight gain more often than men. 

Women are also more prone to stress-induced depressive symptoms than men due to differences in their neurochemical responses. For example, women tend to ruminate more on negative feelings, which is a process of thinking about dark or sad thoughts over and over again. 

Lastly, women tend to face more socioeconomic stress than men and are more likely to face discrimination, unequal power dynamics, and tend to overwork themselves. Women are also more likely to experience intimate partner violence as well as sexual and physical abuse. These factors can all contribute to women being diagnosed with depression at higher rates.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Depression can look and feel different in everyone, but there are some common signs to look out for. 

Signs of depression in women can include: 

  • Persistent sadness or anxiety
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions

Though depression is a mental health disorder, it can also manifest physically, and it’s important to look out for physical symptoms as well as emotional ones. 

Physical symptoms of depression in women can include: 

  • Insomnia
  • Early-morning wakefulness
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Appetite loss 
  • Appetite increase 
  • Weight loss 
  • Weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains
  • Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Digestive problems

Medications For Depression

If you are suffering from depression, several treatments can help ease the symptoms of depression in women and make you feel more at ease. Medications for depression usually correct the chemical imbalances in your brain that affect your mood. Most medications increase the neurotransmitters that are responsible for happiness and mood. Commonly prescribed antidepressants include: 

  • Prozac (Fluoxetine)
  • Zoloft (Sertraline)
  • Lexapro (Escitalopram)
  • Effexor XR (Venlafaxine)
  • Cymbalta (Duloxetine)
  • Amitriptyline
  • Pamelor (Nortriptyline)
  • Nardil (Phenelzine)
  • Parnate (Tranylcypromine)
woman sad and depressed with group surrounding

Dual Diagnosis: Depression and Substance Abuse

Has your depression gotten so bad that you had to use alcohol or substances to manage it? You’re not alone. 

Struggling with depression and substance abuse is known as dual diagnosis and it can be challenging to navigate. Women who struggle with depression may feel the need to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs in order to get some temporary relief. However, this behavior can easily lead to a dependence and put your health at risk. 

If you’re trying to figure out if you or a loved one are suffering from a dual diagnosis, symptoms may include: 

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Sudden behavioral changes
  • Using substances under dangerous conditions
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Loss of control over substance use
  • Developing a tolerance to drugs 
  • Withdrawal symptoms like irritability, insomnia, anxiety
  • Craving for substances
  • Inability to function without substances

Women’s Treatment For Depression and Substance Abuse

At New Directions for Women, we are well equipped to help clients who are struggling with a dual diagnosis. Our rehabilitation program offers family therapy sessions, individualized therapy, and support groups. Navigating a dual diagnosis can be challenging, but we’re committed to providing a safe environment for all women to address their substance abuse as well as their depression. 

We cater each program to support the personal needs of every woman who steps through our doors and understand that one size doesn’t always fit all. Our goal is to help women overcome their addiction and give them the tools to manage their depression so they get on the road to recovery. We have one goal in mind: to make every woman feel safe and supported in getting help.

Detox

In order to fully commit to rehabilitation, each woman needs to be entirely sober in body and mind. Withdrawing from any substance can be overwhelming and scary, so we have medical professionals that are monitoring each client round the clock to ensure that they detox safely and comfortably. Our medical professionals can even prescribe medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and stop drug cravings. They also understand how hard dual diagnoses can be and offer support for any mental health challenges that a client might have. 

Residential Treatment

Our residential program has multiple levels. The first level starts following detox. Afterward, we help clients transition to residential treatment using proven therapeutic practices. The final level is extended care. 

Not all therapeutic practices work for everyone, which is why we tailor treatment to each individual. Group therapy, family therapy, and other forms of therapy can also help the process. We want each client to develop self-confidence to face their dual diagnosis head-on.

new-directions-for-women-residential-treatment

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Residential treatment doesn’t work for everyone, which is why we offer outpatient treatment for women. Our outpatient program can help women in various stages of early recovery with the goal being complete sobriety from drugs or alcohol. We also provide each client with coping strategies to help navigate their depression. 

Our outpatient programs can accommodate various schedules. We offer all-day and partial-day programs and are tailored to help women living in sober communities or having a supportive friend or relative close by.

New Directions for Women Can Help

New Directions for Women facilities

You don’t have to suffer from depression and substance abuse any longer. At New Directions for Women, we offer each and every client a strong support system so they tackle their dual diagnosis head on. If you or a loved one are suffering please don’t hesitate to reach out today. Our team is happy to answer any questions you may have about your recovery. 

Sources:

2024 (Help Guide) Dual Diagnosis: Substance Abuse and Mental Health

2024 (Cleveland Clinic) Dual Diagnosis 

2023 (National Institutes of Health) Depression in Women: 4 Things to Know

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